Bringing Democracy to Disruption

April 19, 2017 • General, Opinion

Daryl Szebesta, Vice President, Cloud Transformation, Oracle

Daryl Szebesta, Vice President, Cloud Transformation, Oracle

The balance of power in virtually every industry is being threatened. The Hiltons and Marriotts of the world are losing market share to companies like AirBnB and HomeAway. High street retailers and department stores are struggling to make sales while online-only competitors like ASOS fill more orders by the minute. Even the food delivery industry is being taken over by upstarts like UberEats and Deliveroo.

Established players are in a struggle to stay profitable while young, cloud-based businesses continue to steal their customers and, as a result, their revenue. A company might have the best product on the market, but that doesn’t matter if it can’t meet the needs and lifestyle of digital-first customers who want immediacy and convenience at the lowest possible price. That’s why people gravitate to companies like Netflix and Buzzfeed instead of paying for cable TV or buying newspapers.

Take Pinterest. Since 2010, the company has merged the worlds of social media and retail to become an indispensable partner for any savvy brand. Today, 87% of “Pinners” have gone on to by a product after seeing it on the site.

And then there’s also Slack, which in a few years has become the go-to business communications software for users tired of endless email chains. Slack’s simple and fun UX has set it apart from companies that dominated the market for years, and with $540 million of venture capital funding now behind it the company’s ascent has only begun.

Today’s disruptive businesses win because they constantly look for ways to work smarter and improve their customers’ lives, and because they are flexible enough to do so. Because they’re born in the cloud, these companies can quickly respond to changing customer needs, whether that means rolling out a new service or app or making a major strategic pivot overnight. Unlike legacy companies, they aren’t tied down by clunky processes and systems that take months to change. Instead, they run on cloud-based platforms that can adapt and grow as they do.

Disruption for all

For companies big and small, the old-school approach of patching up gaps and building on an already-outdated base to keep up with the times is no longer enough. Unless they rebuild from the ground up, businesses have little hope of competing and protecting their valued customer base.

General Electric, which employs over 300,000 people, saw significant cost and time savings early in its cloud transition. For instance, one of the company’s configurator applications for its Oil and Gas business can now be run for $6000 per year instead of $65,000 and changes can be made in two minutes instead of 20 days. Even more important to CIO Jim Fowler is the fact that employees can now spend more time on developing innovations that have become synonymous with GE, like making more powerful jet engines and developing ultra-efficient energy supplies.

Getting the entire business on course

Businesses need to build themselves around their customers’ needs, but the divisions that have built up between departments and IT systems are the ultimate enemy of great customer experiences. The entire company need to act and react as a cohesive whole in a digital market, and this takes a cloud-based platform. Cloud platforms sit across every department, which means everybody can work off the same information and align themselves towards common goals.

PSA group, the auto manufacture behind Peugeot, DS and Citroën, wanted to sync up its web experience with its showroom experience and service centres to align with the habits of today’s car buyer. This required its marketing, sales and service teams to all have the same, up-to-date understanding of each customer’s needs and history with the brand, which PSA gained using Oracle CX Cloud. Crucially, PSA also reduced its customer response times by half and boosted its own productivity 75%, which in turn translated to even better services for its customers.

Levelling the playing field

It’s one thing to come up with a great idea, but unless businesses can replicate this for a growing number of customers its lifespan won’t be very long.

Global Drinks, Europe’s main importer of premium beverages like Tiger Beer and San Miguel, launched in 2009 with just a few employees but quickly grew its team to 40 and needed a more scalable way to manage its staff. Using Oracle Cloud, Global Drinks has empowered its sales employees to make three times more customer visits per day, boost cross-selling rates by 300%, and manage their workload on their mobiles so they can spend more time with customers instead of at their desks.

The cloud has democratised disruption, putting established businesses with proven products and services on a level playing field with growth-starved upstarts. Ultimately, it is not size that dictates a business’ success, but rather its ideas and its ability to bring them to life.

There will always be new players trying to disrupt the status quo. This is the entrepreneurial spirit that led to the tech boom of the 1980s and saw people with big ideas kick-start a multi-billion dollar IT industry. What has changed today is the speed of disruption and the fact that it’s coming from all angles, putting more pressure than ever on longstanding players to defend their dwindling market share. Evolution is the only way to succeed, and the cloud gives companies a way to evolve quickly so they can continue dictating the terms of their industry.

By Daryl Szebesta, Vice President, Cloud Transformation, Oracle

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